The Most Common Myths of Baseball

There are many myths of Baseball that contradict the Rules. As a baseball umpire you must know the most common myths of the game. As you proceed in your umpiring career you will be questioned on them. There are many coaches, players and fans that believe them to be true rules. However they are quite the contrary. You will be surprised by them.  


1.  The hands are believed to be part of the bat.

MLB Ruling:  Hands are part of a person’s body. However, if a pitched ball hits the batter’s hand, the ball is dead. If the batter swings at the ball, it is a strike. It is not a foul ball. If he is avoiding the pitch, it is a hit by pitch and he is given first base. {MLB Rule 2.00e and 6.05f – person, touch, strike}

2.  After passing first base the batter-runner must turn to his right.

MLB Ruling:  The batter-runner can go in either direction – left or right. If he makes an attempt on turning left to advance to second base, he could be called out. The attempt is the umpire’s judgment. The runner is required to immediately return to first base after he slides or overruns it. {MLB Rule 7.08c and 7.08j}

3.  It is a strike if a batter breaks his wrist swinging at the baseball.

MLB Ruling:  Whether a ball is called a strike or ball is the umpire’s judgment if the batter attempts to swing at the ball. If the barrel of the bat crosses the plate or he breaks his wrists are just ways an umpire judges if the batter swung. None of these are rules. {MLB Rule 2.00 – strike}

4.  It is a foul ball if the  ball hits the plate first.

MLB Ruling:  Home plate is in fair territory. If a batted ball hits it, the treatment is the same as any other batted ball. There is nothing special about a batted ball hitting home plate.

5.  If a batter is in the batter’s box, he cannot be called for interference.

MLB Ruling:  If in the umpire’s judgment a batter interferes while in the batter’s box, he will be called out. If the contact could have been avoided, it is interference. The batter’s box is not an exemption from the rule. {MLB Rule 2.00 – interference}

6.  When foul tipped the ball becomes dead.

MLB Ruling:  A foul tip is not a foul ball. By definition, if the ball is tipped and goes directly to the catcher’s hand or glove and he catches it, the ball becomes a foul tip. A foul tip is a strike and the ball remains live. It is the same as a swing and miss strike. If the tipped pitch hits the catcher somewhere other than the hand or glove first, it is not a foul tip. It is a foul ball. {MLB Rule 2.00 – foul tip, strike} 

7.  After two strikes the batter cannot switch into the opposite batter’s box.

MLB Ruling:  Batters can switch batting boxes at any time except after the pitcher is ready to pitch. {MLB Rule 6.06h}

8.  If there is batting out of order, the one who batted out of order is called out.

MLB Ruling:  The called out is on the proper batter. Any hit or advancement made by the batter or runners due to the hit, walk, error or other reason is nullified. The next batter is the one who follows the proper batter who was called out. {MLB Rule 6.07b1}

9.  On ball four a batter can’t overrun first base.

MLB Ruling:  A batter-runner must immediately return to first after overrunning the base. It does not state how a batter has become a runner. It could be a hit, walk, error or dropped third strike. {MLB Rule 7.08c and 7.08j}

10. If a third strike is dropped, the batter is out if he heads for the dugout before heading for first base.

MLB Ruling:  Prior to leaving the circle around the plate, the batter may attempt to take first base at any time. {MLB Rule 6.06c and 6.09b}

11.  It is a called strike if the batter, while attempting a bunt, does not pull the bat out of the strike zone.

MLB Ruling:  Holding the bat over home plate is not an attempt. One definition of a strike is an attempt to hit the ball. A called strike is an umpire’s judgment {MLB Rule 2.0 – strike}

12.  If attempting a bunt, the bunted ball hits the ground and bounces up and hits the bat as the batter is holding the bat, the batter is out.

MLB Ruling:  The rule says the bat can’t hit the ball twice. If the ball hits the bat, it is not an out. {MLB Rule 6.05h and 7.09b} 

13.  If a batter’s foot touches the plate he is out, “Stepping in the Bucket.”

MLB Ruling:  For a batter to be called out his foot must be completely out of the batter’s box. The lines are part of the batter’s box. He must hit the ball fair or foul with his foot out. Nothing in the rule talks about touching the plate with his foot. His foot could be on the plate and not completely out of the batter’s box. {MLB Rule 6.06a}

14.  After a batter bunts a ball, he is always out if he runs outside the 3′ running lane.

MLB Ruling:  A base runner is not out just for being outside the 3′ running lane. The runner must be out of the lane and interfere. Again, his foot must be completely out of the running lane. On the line is in the lane. {MLB Rule 2.0 – interference, 6.05k and 7.0k}

15.  Runner is out if he gives high fives or slaps hands with other players after hitting a homerun.

MLB Ruling:  If a homerun is hit over the fence, the ball is dead. A runner cannot be put out when the ball is dead, only when the runner passes another runner. {MLB Rule 5.02 and 7.05a}

16.  Tie on the bases goes to the runner.

MLB Ruling:  The runner is either safe or out. There is nothing that ever said such a thing in making calls.

17.  A runner is entitled to the next base and an additional base on a ball thrown out of play.

MLB Ruling:  When a fielder other than the pitcher throws the ball into DBT, the runner is awarded two bases. The award is from the base occupied at the time of the pitch if it is the first play by an infielder before all runners have advanced or from where each runner was positioned at the time the ball left the fielder’s hand on all subsequent plays. {MLB Rule 7.05g}

18.  If a base coach touches a runner at any time, the runner is out.

MLB Ruling:  According to the rules the coach must physically assist the runner for him to be put out. Patting him on the butt, a high five or handshakes are not in the spirit of this rule {MLB Rule 7.09l}

19.  Running the bases in reverse is prohibited.

MLB Ruling:  The only time a runner would be out for running the bases in reverse is if he is making a travesty of the game or to confuse the defense. If a runner missed a base, he is required to touch in reverse any base he missed. If he missed a base, he must go back and retouch. {MLB Rule 7.08l and 7.10b}

20.  On a close play, the base runner must always slide.

MLB Ruling:  No runner is required to slide. If a fielder has the ball, the runner has two choices – slide or avoid the tag by going around the fielder.

21.  When a runner is touching a base and is hit by a batted ball, the runner is always safe.

MLB Ruling:  The runner is out if hit by a fair ball, except an infield fly. The bases are in fair territory. {MLB Rule 5.09f and 7.08f}

22.  On a foul tip, a runner may not steal a base.

MLB Ruling:  Again, a foul tip is not a foul ball. If the ball is tipped by the batter and goes into the catcher’s mitt and is caught, it is a foul tip. It is a strike and a live ball. It is the same as a missed pitch. Runner can advance. If it is not caught, it is a foul ball. {MLB Rule 2.0 – foul tip, strike}

23.  On a fly ball with a runner tagging up, it is a force out when a runner does not tag up.

MLB Ruling:  When there are runners on base, they cannot be forced out unless the batter becomes a runner and a runner is forced to the next base. If the batter hits a fly ball and that is caught for an out, then the force does not exist. If a runner does not tag up on the fly out, it is not a force play. All runs scored before this are counted. (MLB Rule 2.0 – force play and 4.09}

24.  An appeal on a runner who missed a base cannot be a force out.

MLB Ruling:  A runner must touch all the bases. If the runner misses a base to which he was forced because the batter became a runner and is put out before touching that base, the out is still a force play. If this is the third out, no runs may score. The base can be touched or the runner can be touched. Both ways it is a force out. {MLB Rule 2.00 – force play, tag, 7.08e, 7.10b}

25.  If a runner runs out of the baseline to avoid a fielder fielding a ball, the runner is out.

MLB Ruling:  A runner is out for being out of the baseline when attempting to avoid a tag. The runner must avoid the fielder attempting to field a batted ball. {MLB Rule 7.08a and 7.09l}

26.  If an infield fly rule is in effect, runners may not advance the bases.

MLB Ruling:  There is no difference between an infield fly and regular fly bal as far as runners are concerned. One difference is that they are never forced to advance because the batter is out whether the ball is caught or not. MLB Rule 2.00 – infield fly, 6.05e, 7.10a}

27.  No one can score when a runner is called out for the third out for not tagging up.

MLB Ruling:  This is not a force play. A force play is when a runner must advance because a batter has become a runner. If the batter is out because of a caught fly ball, all forces are removed. An out of a failure to tag-up is not a force out. Runners crossing the plate before the out are counted. (MLB Rule 2.00 – force play, 4.09, 7.10a}

28.  The pitcher bounces a pitch to the plate, the batter cannot hit it.

MLB Ruling:  Any pitch that is thrown by the pitcher, no matter how it reaches the batter, can be hit by the batter {MLB Rule 2.00 – pitch. Note: if the ball does not cross the foul line it is not a pitch}

29.  If the pitcher bounces a pitch and it hits the batter, the batter is not awarded first base.

MLB Ruling:  Any pitch that is thrown by the pitcher, no matter how it reaches the batter, if the batter is hit by the pitch and tries to avoid the pitch, the batter is awarded first base. {MLB Rule 2.00 – pitch and 6:08b}

30.  If a fielder holds a fly ball for 2 seconds, it is a catch.

MLB Ruling:  When a fielder has complete control of the ball, the umpire can rule that is a legal catch. The release of the ball must be voluntary and intentional. {MLB Rule 2.00 – catch}

31.  If there is a force or appeal play, you must tag the base with your foot.

MLB Ruling:  A fielder can touch the base with any part of his body. {MLB Rule 2.00 – force play, person, tag and 7.08e}

32.  When a balk is called, the ball always becomes dead.

MLB Ruling:  No, the ball is not dead. If a throw or pitch is made after the balk is called, the ball is a delayed dead ball. When the play is over, the balk may be enforced or not, depending on what happened. If a throw, and all runners advance on the play, ignore the balk. If not, the balk is awarded (one base) from the time of the pitch. On a pitch, if all runners, including the batter, advance on the play, the balk is ignored. Otherwise, it is no pitch and the balk award is made from the time of the pitch. {MLB Rule 8.05 – penalty}

33.  It is a fair ball if a fielder’s feet are in fair territory when he touches a ball.

MLB Ruling:  Only the position of the ball is relevant on a foul ball call. The position of any part of the fielder’s body does not matter at all. A foul ball is judged based on the position of the ball in reference to the ground when the ball is touched. {MLB Rule 2.00 – fair, foul}

34.  On an appeal play, the ball must be returned to the pitcher before an appeal can be made.

MLB Ruling:  Only if time has been called, the ball must go to the pitcher. An appeal may be made anytime the ball is live. The ball becomes live after time is called when the pitcher touches the pitcher rubber and the umpire calls “play”. If time has not been called, the appeal can be made right away. {MLB Rule 2.00 – appeal, 5.11, 7.10}

35.  It is a ball to the batter if the pitcher winds up and then stops when there are no runners on base.

MLB Ruling:  If the ball is not delivered by the pitcher, it is not a pitch. A pitch is a ball delivered to the batter by the pitcher. If the ball is not delivered by a pitcher in his motion with runners on base, it is a balk. {MLB Rule 2.00 – pitch}

36.  When the pitcher throws to pick off a runner, he must come to the set position.

MLB Ruling:  The pitcher is only required to come to a complete stop in the Set Position before he delivers a pitch. However, not before making a throw. {MLB Rule 8.05m}

37.  The pitcher must step off the rubber before a pick off throw.

MLB Ruling:  When the pitcher steps off the rubber, he becomes an infielder. He can throw to a base from the rubber, provided he does not break any rules. {MLB Rule 8.05}

38.  If a fielder catches a fly ball and then falls over the fence, it is a homerun.

MLB Ruling:  If a fielder is not touching the ground in DBT when the ball is caught, it is a legal catch if he holds onto the ball and meets the requirements of a catch. If the catch is not the third out and the fielder falls down in DBT, all runners are awarded one base. If the fielder stays on his feet in DBT after the catch, the ball is live and he can make a play. {MLB Rule 2.00 – catch, 6.05a, 7.04c}

39.  When an umpire is hit by a ball, the ball is always dead.

MLB Ruling:  If a batted ball does not pass an infielder and hits an umpire, the ball is dead. Any other batted or thrown ball that would hit an umpire is live. Interference by the umpire can also occur when the plate umpire interferes with a catcher’s try to prevent a stolen base. {MLB Rule 2.00 – interference, 5.09b, 5.09f}

40.  The home plate umpire can overrule the other umpires any time.

MLB Ruling:  No umpire can overrule another umpire’s call. If an umpire wishes, he can ask for help from another umpire but is not required to. {MLB Rule 9.02b, 9.02c}


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